Thursday, April 30, 2009

MVP... Race or Rap?

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Before AJ and I strangle each other, I thought I would lighten the mood. Prepare to cough up a lung from excessive laughter... as I present the video clip of the month (maybe the year or EVER).

The MVP race this year, in my opinion, is wrapped up. Statistically, LBJ put together one of the all-time most impressive years ... period. He carried a mediocre supporting cast to the best record in the NBA. However, the man below argues there is in fact a MVP race ... and he does it in style.


Consider the analogy:


Daniel LaRusso to Mr. Miyagi as Eminem to Paul Brogan??


PAUL BROGAN - MVP 2009




See his other 18 videos hurrrr.


Enjoy and stay classy,



B-Dubs

This Blog: Where Amazing NBA Picks Happen

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Bracket Challenge 2009

AJ's Bracket
First-round winners: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Atlanta, Lakers, Denver, Dallas, Portland
Conference finals: Cleveland beats Orlando, Lakers beat Denver
NBA finals: Cleveland vs.Lakers
CHAMP: Cleveland in six
TOTAL POINTS: 17

B-dubs' Bracket
First-round winners: Cleveland, Chicago, Orlando, Miami, Lakers, Denver, Dallas, Portland
Conference finals: Cleveland beats Orlando, Lakers beat Denver
NBA finals: Cleveland vs.Lakers
CHAMP: Cleveland in seven
TOTAL POINTS: 16

Justin Petek's Bracket
First-round winners: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Miami, Lakers, Denver, San Antonio, Portland
Conference finals: Cleveland beats Boston, Lakers beat Denver
NBA finals: Lakers vs. Cleveland
CHAMP: Lakers in six
TOTAL POINTS: 18

Zach Sundelius' Bracket
First-round winners: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Miami, Lakers, Denver, San Antonio, Portland
Conference finals: Cleveland beats Orlando, Lakers beat San Antonio
NBA finals: Lakers vs. Cleveland
CHAMP: Lakers in seven
TOTAL POINTS: 18

Tom Lea's Bracket
First-round winners: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Miami, Lakers, Denver, Dallas, Portland
Conference finals: Cleveland beats Boston, Lakers beat Denver
NBA finals: Cleveland vs. Lakers
CHAMP: Cleveland in six
TOTAL POINTS: 15

TIEBREAKER: Justin picked a six-game final, closer than Zach's seven, so Justin Petek is your winner. Fantasy, Pick 'em...this man is cleaning up.

OH...and don't forget, TNEA and Sportsmen/women (yes, plural) of the Month coming up on Friday. Enjoy the rest of the week.

-AJ

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Summer Movie Preview?

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I love sports. It's probably the thing (not person) that I love most in this world. I am about to graduate with a meteorology degree, but my love for weather falls far short of sports. The only thing that comes even close for me, is movies. I am a sucker for a $5 small coke. a $6 bag of popcorn and a $10 ticket to two hours of mindless entertainment. Don't get me wrong, I love the deep and intellectual movies (Slumdog Millionaire was my favorite movie last year), but summer movies are usually straight-up action and comedy with no global message attached. And I like that.
Now I know this is a sports blog, but we include hot chicks, so I'll include pictures of hot chicks. But please bear with me as we take a break from the NBA and NHL playoffs and MLB ... and
take a look at what looks to be a fantastic season of entertainment that makes you dumber.
I'll highlight movies I am looking forward to, and include dud movies that may have hot chicks in them.

MAY:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
I never was an X-Men fan growing up. I didn't watch the cartoons or read the comics, but I did play the arcade game every now and then. However, I enjoyed the trilogy over the past few years and Hugh Jackman's Wolverine character was the best part of those movies ... BY FAR. So yes, I am on board to see this movie. Not to mention we finally get a look at Gambit played by Taylor Kitsch, who stars in one of my favorite TV shows, Friday Night Lights. He gets to hook up with this:

Lucky SOB.
Yes, I don't really care about Gambit, but I got to throw in that image, so don't complain.

Star Trek:
Like X-Men, I was never a Trekkie. I didn't watch any Star Trek growing up. However, this movie looks pretty bad A$$. The action looks fantastic. J.J. Abrams knows how to create suspense and include good action, so count me in.

Terminator Salvation:
Even though Christian Bale is freaking crazy... he is still a fantastic actor and a great action star. I always loved the Terminator franchise (yes, even Terminator 3), and I am greatly looking forward to this.

UP:
Does Pixar ever miss? When I first saw the teaser trailers for this movie, I thought "That is going to be boring." The full-length trailer came out in February, and WOW this looks good. Did we expect anything less from Pixar?

Other notable May movies:
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: NO THANK YOU
Angels and Demons: Never read the books, but probably will be dragged to this one
Night at the Museum II: Enjoyed the first one but could see this getting old quickly
Dance Flick: PLEASE GOD STOP WITH THESE AWFUL SPOOFS

JUNE:

Land of the Lost:
Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Jorma (The Lonely Island)... count me in. I am always down for a Will Ferrell movie... it just hasn't gotten old yet. Throw in the two other guys and this has a chance at comic gold.

Year One:
I think the combination of the shennanigans of Jack Black and Michael Cera's calm comedy is going to be fantastic. Throw in the caveman theme and a cameo from Paul Rudd and I'm in heaven.

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen:
Megan Fox. I was dumber after seeing it, but was sufficiently entertained after the first one. So I'll see this one. Oh and did I mention sex-addicted Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. Megan Fox. MEGAN FOXXXXXXX.

Another June notable:
Taking of Pelham 123: Denzel and Travolta can never be a losing combination.

JULY:

Public Enemies:
Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in a crime thriller. Michael Mann directs (HEAT). I don't think any other explanation is necessary.

I Love You Beth Cooper:
Hayden Panettiere. Again, I...I don't think any other explanation is necessary.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince:
Yes, I am a fan. The movies have gotten darker and stronger in my opinion. This should be a good one and will possibly have the biggest release of the summer.

Funny People:
Adam Sandler returns. This movie will be strong. Directed by Judd Apatow (40 Year old Virgin, Knocked Up), and also starring Seth Rogen and Eric Bana. Not only a good comedy, but will have a great plot-line and looks to be a tear jerker as well.

Other July notables:
Bruno: Borat's counterpart.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: Should be fun to watch on cable some day
G-Force: Hamsters working for the government starring the voice of Nic Cage.... uhhhh No
The Ugly Truth: Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl star in this romantic comedy that I will never see.

AUGUST:

The Goods: The Don Ready Story
I have a bromanctic crush on Jeremy Piven (Entourage). Starring in a comedy produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (Anchorman). Sign ... ME ... UP.

Inglorious Bastards;
Quentin Tarantino directs Brad Pitt and others as a bunch of Nazis are slaughtered. Sounds like my kind of movie.

Other August notables:
G.I. Joe: NOPE
The Boat that Rocked: Ensemble comedy featuring Bill Nighy and Philip Seymour Hoffman... hmmm intriguing.

Well, maybe I brought some movies into the limelight that you had never heard of. If not, sorry for wasting your time.

A few sports notes:

Dallas loses Game 5 but finishes the Spurs in Game 6.
The Denver Nuggets have showed that they will take the Lakers to at least 6 games, but LA still wins the West.
Nobody is beating Cleveland in the East.
Al Davis needs to die of "natural causes."
Tiger is back this weekend!!!!
I have no idea what has happened to the Dallas Cowboys ... oh, wait, they got rid of their best talent evaluator (Parcells).
Actually enjoyed watching some Texas Ranger baseball last night.

I am ready to graduate... 18 DAYS!!!

Stay classy,

B-Dubs

Monday, April 27, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Wisconsin changes student ticket system

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According to our friends over at the Badger Herald, the University of Wisconsin is finally changing its student season ticket policy. An e-mail from the athletic department reads that UW is doing away with the controversial lottery system that has plagued football fans for the past two years and reverting back to the first-come, first-served system.


I wrote a guest column for the Herald about a month ago on this topic, from the basketball point of view - though it is relevant to football. Another former BH sports editor, Derek Zetlin, is no doubt rejoicing today over in Prague.

To sum up the problems in one paragraph, UW changed to a lottery system in reaction to a 2007 e-mail glitch where half the student body didn't even know football tickets were on sale before they were completely sold out...and because the school felt like giving everybody an equal chance at tickets, regardless of whether or not you can name three Badgers without the use of a game-issued program. As a result, many "real" fans were left without tickets, you had a student section that was commonly 60, 70, even 80 percent empty at kickoff...and worse, thousands of kids entered the lottery with the sole intention of winning tickets and immediately turning them around on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist for three times face value. Just an ugly situation all the way around that hopefully is being changed for 2009.

Jordan Schelling, currently the associate sports editor at the Herald and the man who alerted me to this development, will be writing a column on this ticket policy change in Tuesday's paper. Check that out tomorrow at badgerherald.com.

-AJ

Eben Britton Will End You and more Case of the Mondays

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Mile High Musings for a Monday morning after turning 22 years old and spending the day wondering – pondering, even – if I should follow in Chad Johnson’s footsteps and change my name to “Double Deuce”…


  • I think I learned this weekend the biggest reason the NFL Draft annoys me is because we just don’t know what the heck the teams are thinking. I still watch it because it is entertaining and there’s a hopeful aura that your team picks well-known names that fit your team’s needs.
  • But we won’t know how this draft class will pan out for a few seasons after Mr. Irrelevant’s name is called, and you usually just walk away wondering why your team didn’t follow what ESPN experts were saying they should have done.
  • You do have to love the seventh round of the NFL draft. Here were some of the names taken in the first eight picks of the Irrelevant round: Chris Ogbannaya, Paul Fanaika, Taufui Vakapuna, Edjuan Biggers, and – my personal favorite – Captain Munnerlyn. Yarrr, Captain!
  • Wow, way to spit on your fans, Denver Broncos. You honestly thought reaching for the best running back in the draft about ten spots too high was going to woo your fan base? We’re not stupid, Josh McDaniels.
  • It’s obvious the problem last year was defense, notably getting to the quarterback and stopping the run. So why, why, why in the world did you take your ten picks and use just four of them on defense – and only one pick (Robert Ayers) on the front seven???? WHY????
  • But hey, the ex-Patriot McDaniels did manage to select a sixth-round quarterback whose name starts with "Tom Bra...."
  • I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.
  • And at least the Broncos didn’t pick a wide receiver No. 7 when he was a questionable first-rounder…with Michael Crabtree perfectly available. Or a cornerback in the second round when Senor Hairpiece vehemently argued he could’ve been signed in free agency.
  • Could be a fun column sometime: What are the five worst franchises in sports? Al Davis' Raiders are right up there.


  • How about this story out of Jacksonville? Sounds like somebody took their cocky pills Saturday. Eben Britton, the Jags' second pick - and second offensive tackle, after Eugene Monroe - apparently got an A in self-confidence class. Have a look at some of his quotes, after sliding down out of the first round and into the 39th overall selection:
  • “I couldn’t be happier that to be picked by the Jacksonville Jaguars but I was (ticked) off. There isn’t a bigger organization that I could have asked for, but every team that passed on me will regret it for the rest of the history of that franchise.”
  • “I was always told I wasn’t big enough, fast enough to play. Well, the chip (on my shoulder) just got a little bigger and somebody’s going to pay.”
  • So what's your career plans, Eben?
  • “I want to lead the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Super Bowl and I want to become the greatest tackle in the history of the NFL.”
  • Oh. Okay. What do you think of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay?
  • “You know what, if one of these draft guys lined up across from me, they’d be dead, so that’s not something I’m really concerned with. If you want to line up across from Eben Britton, you’re going to know what’s happening to you, I guarantee you that.”
  • Eben Britton sure knows what Eben Britton wants. Here's guessing we never hear from Eben Britton again.

  • The NBA has passed a new law. When the Celtics need a three-pointer in the final 30 seconds of a basketball game, the opposing coach must – MUST – double-team Ray Allen and tell his two guards, “I don’t care if they pick and roll, if they penetrate and kick, if they bring out the Patriots’ offensive line to block for Ray Allen or if Ray takes the shot from the popcorn stand in section 218. If you let Allen have any more than three and a half inches of open space during this next possession, you both will be on a bus heading to the D-League before the final horn.”

  • The next coach who fails to do this is breaking the law…and should be on a bus heading to coach D-League before the final horn.

  • Why? This. (32 second mark)
  • And this.
  • And this.
  • And this.
  • And, finally, this.
  • Get the picture, Bulls?
  • My roommate Justin’s take on the Cleveland-Detroit series, when ABC cut away from the scintillating Bulls-Celtics game to LeBron warming up for a Game 4 promo: “They’re gonna win by 70.”
  • And the sad thing is, my immediate response was, ‘well, not quite. But they’ll be close. The scrubs will whittle it down to a 50-point win.’
  • I think it’s safe to say Denver won the Chauncey-Iverson trade.

  • News: Despite legitimate speculation that the University of Wisconsin would not put a single prospect into the first three rounds of this weekend’s NFL Draft, four Badgers were taken in the third round after a UW-less Day 1. Matt Shaughnessy (Oakland), Kraig Urbik (Pittsburgh) and DeAndre Levy (Detroit) were taken eight spots apart in the 70s picks, and Travis Beckum (New York Giants) was the 100th overall pick and the final selection of the third round.
  • Views: I have to tip my cap to Wisconsin, which must be proud of being just one of seven schools to produce four draft picks in the first three rounds (or, if this was last year or any prior year, four first-day selections.) Granted, nobody was actually a first-day pick in 2009, but when nobody figures you to have anybody gone in the first three rounds, four Badgers bucking the scout’s take is a nice trend.
  • More views: That all being said, what does that tell you about the 2009 Badgers, having just lost four top-100 players from a 7-6 team? As Scooby-doo might say…Ruh roh.




  • The above clip shows Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home against the Yankees, helping the Red Sox earn a three-game sweep.
  • Apparently the results Boston-New York rivalry is something like 52-51 since the start of the 2004 season. Coulda fooled me. It seems like the Sox absolutely own the Yankees every time they play.
  • But back to Ellsbury’s domestic burglary: check out the 1:15 mark. So the bases are loaded. Andy Pettitte is a left-handed pitcher who takes forever to throw a pitch out of the full, and can’t see Ellsbury. The Yankee third baseman (don’t know who it is, too lazy to look it up, all I know is it’s not A-Roid) isn’t holding on Ellsbury, who is as sneaky as he is fast.
  • With there being a left-handed hitter at the plate facing a lefty pitcher, the chances are slim that a ball will be hit to the third-base area. And Ellsbury took a giant lead before he even took off…he had such a great jump that he stumbled the last two steps and still got in safely.
  • What did we learn from this little event? That maybe the Yankees should have kept some of that $423.5 million they gave to CC/Tex/Burnett and spent it on, you know, sensible coaching with common sense.


  • Later this week, I’ll have my annual birthday wishes column, along with a little piece on a beloved event held in Madison each year that according to a friend of mine, doubled as “the world’s largest wet t-shirt contest” in 2009.
  • Apparently, State of Play is “sooooooo damn good.” I’ll have to see if it’s as good as Taken.
  • Family Guy with an off week, after a hilarious episode last Sunday. Hopefully this doesn’t start a downward spiral. And that’s all I have to say about that.

    Have a good one.

    -AJ
  • Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    NEWS AND VIEWS

    My poor Mavs let Tony Parker run all over them last night... but I will take the split in the Alamo city.

    It's golf season now and I'm late for a tee time... so lets get this going:

    Report: Howard named NBA's top defender
    Because it helps your team so much to swat the ball 15 rows into the stands.... so that the opposing team gets another possession.

    Villanova's Reynolds enters NBA draft
    Oh Scottie, what could have been if you stayed committed to Oklahoma. Good luck.

    Dampier to Parker: Watch out in Game 3
    Damp... why are you speaking? Go ice your knees and learn how to play defense.


    Pass on gas: Hybrid will be pace car at Lowe's
    Because making the pace car more environmentally friendly makes it okay that more fuel is being used in this race than the entire continent of Africa consumes in a year.

    Holt agrees to 3-year deal with Jaguars
    Signing aging receivers worked well for them once (See Keenan Mccardell) why not try it again?

    CB Brown: 'Lack of respect' from Eagles
    Seriously? Why even have contracts anymore? They mean nothing.

    Wimbledon purse up in pounds, down in dollars
    Genius move by Wimbledon to save a few bucks. No one will ever know....

    Little League says it will pay $500 fine for Dukes
    Cool story here. He shouldn't be late to his job... but I think he would take this fine in light of his past missteps.

    Fla. prep pitcher hurls 4th straight no-hitter
    Someone make this kid pee in a cup.

    Rumors: McNabb or Flacco to Boldin in '09
    Improve either team? Yes. Will he stay happy? probs not

    Maybe I'll break 90 today.... stay classy,

    B-Dubs

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    We Are...Columbine and more Case of the Mondays

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    Mile High Musings on a Monday morning hangover from a great, great NBA weekend with excitement that’s overshadowed only by sorrowed memories on this 10th anniversary of one of the greatest tragedies in American history.


    I went to Chatfield Senior High, the (former) rival school of Columbine High School. Ten years ago, on April 20, 1999, I think everybody's life was changed forever: students and teachers, children teenagers and adults, Coloradans and all Americans. I didn't personally know anybody involved with the attacks, though I have several friends who knew students that witnessed the attacks or were injured during Columbine.

    The week that it happend, the entire Bradford Elementary sixth grade was in southwestern Colorado at Crow Canyon, near the four corners. I'll never forget the teachers calling us into a large meeting room just after dark and Ms. Auger telling us what news they had received - "Today was a terrible day for Denver", she began. I'll never forget the hush that fell over the room as Ms. Auger divulged the details, telling us with a crack in her voice that our school and schools around Jefferson County were on lockdown and that everyone at our school was safe. I'll really never forget being scared out of my you-know-what thinking about my little brothers, Matt and Dan, who were fourth-graders at Bradford that day and kept locked inside the school until the coast was announced as clear. I'll never forget how shocked everybody was, the tears shed that night (and remember, these were 12-year-olds, a few years away from high school). And most importantly, I'll never forget the impact Columbine had on all of us in the Jeffco community, and I'm sure the same goes for schools and cities around the country.

    We love you, Columbine, and will never forget.

    Just for today, the blog will be navy blue, Columbine's primary color...so please forgive anything that's hard to read.

    Now on to the Musings…

    • Ranking the eight NBA series from least interesting to most interesting, taking into account each of the Game Ones from the weekend…
      8. Cleveland-Detroit - thought the Pistons would've put up more of a fight
      7. Los Angeles-Utah - not good when Coach throws in the towel before game one
      6. Atlanta-Miami - looks like D-Wade isn't Superman after all...
      5. Denver-New Orleans - ...same goes for Chris Paul...
      4. Orlando-Philadelphia - ...and for Dwight Howard. Team before individuals, I guess.
      3. San Antonio-Dallas - can San Antonio fight off its biggest rival sans Manu?
      2. Portland-Houston - will take an awful lot for Baby Blazers to forget about 108-81
      1. Boston-Chicago - the champs are wounded. Can the Bulls take advantage?
    • You may have noticed a common theme. The four most interesting series saw the road underdog take Game 1; Nos. 5 and 6 on the list went to the home team, but are still competitive series; and the two most boring series have already been decided for all intents and purposes.
    • Other than Utah and Detroit (who limped into the playoffs and have terrible, terrible matchups), we've got 14 quality playoff teams on our hands. I'm not going to get on a soapbox here - just check out my chalky bracket - but I'm not at all surprised that four of the six road underdogs not playing Cleveland or LA have stolen home advantage in the opening games.
    • Today, we spell redemption: AI. Miss two freebies late, make up for it with a game-winning, off-balance jumper in the last two seconds. What a finish for Andre Iguodala.
    • My, that Derrick Rose is impressive. And such an improved free-throw shooter ... think John Calipari would've liked to have some of those back, say, a year and two weeks ago?
    • Hi, Ray? Ray Allen? Wake up. The playoffs started. And no KG around to help you. Time to play.


    • Hats off to Denver and Atlanta for paying attention to Saturday's upsets and taking care of their business at home.
    • Anyone who thinks the Hawks can't give the Cavs a heck of a run might be in for a surprise. That defense is shockingly underrated; they would just have to find a way to neutralize LeBron, somehow.
    • And anyone who still says the Nuggets CAN'T beat the Lakers is dead wrong. I don't think the Nuggets, should the matchup occur, will beat LA. I wouldn't bet that Denver would do so, I wouldn't bet on theDenver even if you gave me good odds. But Denver CAN beat the Lakers. You can't tell me that LA's half-assed defense can just extinguish all that firepower without breaking a sweat.
    • Joe Dumars, your thank-you note is in the mail. Not for Carmelo; for Chauncey.
    • And my final NBA-related thought: Inside the NBA talent and producers, never change. That is, without match or master, the greatest sports studio show on television. They even talk about professional basketball every now and then. But only on occasion.




    • Covered the Wisconsin Spring Game on Saturday. According to UW's "estimated attendance" as it was announced, 23,500 fans were there in the rain to watch a 56-20 blowout that didn't tell us much about the 2009 Badgers other than that Curt Phillips might have a shot at the starting QB position.
    • How far off is that "estimate"? Put it this way: if I had a dollar for every fan there, and had to give a dollar back for every fan under the 23,500 mark that actually showed up, I'd be more broke than Michael Vick.
    • I just don't get the need to lie about attendance figures. No shame in the fact that people outside SEC country just don't care about football in April.
    • But from a football standpoint, the Badgers will probably struggle again in '09. Now, 2010...that's a different story.
    • Let's say Phillips wins the job this year. The 2010 Badgers will feature returning starters at every offensive position except tight end Garrett Graham, the entire defensive line, two linebackers, both corners and both kicker and punter.
    • That's UW's best shot to get back to a Rose Bowl. With as few seniors as there are this year, it kinda makes sense for Bret Bielema to make the tough decision, play Phillips this season and hope that Dustin Sherer, an improving pocket passer and a genuinely nice kid, understands.


    • So, Brooklyn Decker decided to marry Andy Roddick. A good-looking 26-year-old tennis player who's made it some sort of personal vendetta to nail as many Hollywood hotties as he can, wedded to a 22-year-old Sports Illustrated model who's been famous for about two years and could get anybody she wants. And both travel around the world nonstop for their profession.
    • Gee, if that's not the perfect recipe for longterm marital success, I don't know what is.
    • And get this, something I learned yesterday: you know how they met? Roddick saw her picture in the '07 SI Swimsuit edition and, like every other red-blooded male, developed an instant crush. So he got his agent to track down her number, tried to score a date for five months - Decker admitted "I was stalked" - and eventually, she fell for it.
    • Seriously, Vegas has got to have this on the board somewhere: over/under for how many months before the divorce.
    • And if you've got this crazy idea about me being super-jealous and bordering on uncontrollable bitterness...you'd be right on, buckaroo.


    • My preseason World Series pick is 11-1. I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin.
    • Then again, my fantasy team is in last place by a solid four games (record after two weeks: 8-22-6), and my real-life team has lost six of seven (Rockies chances of a division title after two weeks: zero). So we’ve got some work to do there (realizing that baseball is complete guesswork and it’s better to be lucky than good, thus also realizing I hate baseball: priceless).


    • That Heineken commercial with the four screaming guys was funny the first time. Heck, it was entertaining the first eight or nine viewings. But it's gotten old, guys.


    • Family Guy last night – easily the funniest of the season – was titled “420” and all about legalizing pot. The very first commercial once the episode ended? One of those ‘Above the Influence’ spots. Coincidence? If so, that automatically wins the award for “Most Hilarious Irony of All-Time”.
    • Watching Family Guy’s newest ensemble “Bag of Weed” where Brian and Stewie , which took us into commercial and Burger King’s newest commercial where the King raps “SpongeBob SquarePants” to the tune of Baby Got Back, was one of the strangest five minutes of my life involving back-to-back songs that make you stare at the television with your eyes bugging and jaw slacked, unsure whether to be humored or terrified by what you just saw. And that’s all I have to say about that.

    Have a good one.

    -AJ

    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Where will AMAZING happen this year?

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    (While you read, I highly recommend playing one of the two videos belows. Yes, I've given you a choice today! Either one works effectively. You don't even need to watch either video. Just jack up your volume meter, and listen to the awesomeness to get you FIRED UP while you read.)


    Completing my second-round, conference final and 2009 NBA FINALS picks...plus, we've got a small, informal bracket challenge going on, so I'll list those selections too.

    Oh, and from Part I, I had a belated Brooklyn Decker picture, and didn't want to disappoint my faithful readers by losing in the mix. Here it is. Damn you, Andy Roddick with your 155-mph serve. Go back to Maria, why don't ya.

    But I digress. Bulls-Celtics tip off in exactly 102 minutes, so let's get to it. Time to party. But first, your choice of video. Option 1...



    ...or if you prefer, here's a little Kanye to get you in the mood...



    EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

    1) Cavaliers vs. 4) Hawks

    Remember how much trouble Atlanta gave Boston last year? That was fun. Why couldn't it happen again? I feel like the Hawks are THE most underrated team in the NBA - and that says something, folks, coming from a guy that follows probably the most disrespected team in the league. At least people are talking about the Nuggets. The Hawks won 47 games this year!! That's one less than Utah, two less than NO, and three less than Dallas ... and guess what? The East, from top to bottom, was much better than the West in 2008-09! (That's right, I said it.) The Hawks had much less gimmes than those three, and kept pace. So why did I get bombarded with constant talk about those Western teams, but never heard a peep about Atlanta? I thought it was just a myth that Hawks fans don't exist. Or maybe Hawks fans are the myth.

    So I'll go out on a small limb: Atlanta will be the second team this year to beat Cleveland at the Q (the Philly garbage doesn't count; the Sixers beat a JV team masquerading in Cleveland uniforms) and make this an interesting series. But Cleveland will recover and advance.

    Prediction: The LeBrons in seven games

    2) Celtics vs. 3) Magic

    This series lost its luster when KG went down. Unfortunately, the cover story for SI this week didn't convince me that Dwight Howard really, really, really, really wants the NBA title this year; something that can be said for KG, LeBron and Kobe. But you know what? I'm a man of my word (even when that word is totally, totally wrong; see, Northwestern-Wisconsin hoops, Jan. 31) and I was all set to pick Orlando to make the conference finals back when Boston had us fooled that KG was just fine and dandy. So to heck with my fears from the SI article; I'm not just picking Orlando. I'm picking a shocker.

    Prediction: Man-Children in four. That's right: a sweep. (This is why I stay away from Vegas.)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

    1) Lakers vs. 4) Trail Blazers

    I keep hearing that Portland's the only team with a chance to knock off the Lakers, due to the mini-rivalry and Los Angeles' alarmingly predominant struggles in Rip City. Well, goodie. Maybe Denver won't have to knock off Kobe after all (okay, enough homerism). I just don't see it, though. That Rockets series should take a ton out of Portland, and while they'll be the nation's darling underdogs against the Lakers, I'm having trouble understanding how Portland, a weak road team, is supposed to put up any sort of fight at the Staples Center in four tries (if it gets that far). Portland's inexperience, particularly opposed to LA's first-round foe Utah, could make this easier for the Lakers than we all think. Obviously, I hope I'm wrong.

    Prediction: Black Mambas in five

    2) Nuggets vs. 6) Mavericks

    When you look at head-to-head records among all Western Conference playoff teams, there are a few three-game sweeps, but only two four-game sweeps. Lakers over Houston is one; the other is...Nuggets over Mavericks? Not what you would expect, now is it? Not to discount three-game dominance over one team, but if you only had to go to the other team's building once, it's a little empty. Not as empty as, you know, using steroids to juice your home run numbers, but still.

    My guys did win all four meetings with B-dubs' squad, but to be fair, the total margin in those four wins was 16 points ... and 10 of them were in the Dec. 15 effort. Thus, the Mavericks have every reason to believe they can beat Denver, the way they're playing and with the confidence they would certainly harbor by conquering the Spurs. However, the Nuggets match up well at pretty much every position; it's no mistake that Denver did win each of those games. Plus, David Stern hates Mark Cuban, so Denver has that going for it.

    Prediction: Birdman flies high in seven

    EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS - Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Orlando Magic

    The teams only met three nights in the regular season, with the home team winning each time. Orlando actually had two of those. That doesn't necessarily help the Magic, who only got one experience dealing with the Q. (By the way, that's Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, for those who keep wondering. I just really like that moniker.) By this point, the loss of Jameer Nelson has got to be hurting the Magic; and I don't think the Cavs will drop one to Orlando in Cleveland. Don't be thrown by the number of games I predict; this will be a tight, tight series.

    Prediction: Title-Starved City in five

    WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS - Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets

    The series everyone wants to see. The Nuggets' fans because it means Chauncey and Carmelo have spearheaded a deep playoff run, and the Lakers' fans because, well, the Nuggets don't have much of a chance of stopping LA from setting up the series everyone REALLY, REALLY wants to see.

    Prediction: Dream Crushers...er, Revenge Seekers in six

    2009 NBA FINALS - Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    Everyone is picking the Lakers to win the title. It's not a bad pick at all. Kobe has the best overall supporting cast (and it's not even close) among the MVP candidates, he's the best closer in the game which is huge during playoff time, his team is super-experienced, we all seem to have forgotten that Phil Jackson has been here before. And if these two teams played one game, for it all, at a neutral site, I'd probably be picking Los Angeles too.

    But I think I'm smitten with 39-2*. (Asterisk indicates one garbage loss that did not feature real Cleveland team.) You don't just waltz into Cleveland and win games, with that crowd so desperately wanting a championship and so desperately wanting LeBron to retire a Cavalier ... or at least deliver a title before he leaves.

    I think Games 1 and 2 are the most important. Remember, at this stage of the playoffs, it's 2-3-2 time. If the Lakers can steal one at the Q, then they can calmly take a "one-game-at-a-time" approach back at home, and try to get three in a row to send LeBron and company back to Ohio with the Finals completed and Kobe clutching his fourth championship trophy. But if the Lakers can't....it becomes that much tougher to believe that LA can definitely win all three at Staples, knowing they still have to go back to Cleveland and find a way to win a game.

    Count me among the believers. The Witnesses. LeBron is about to prove who's really the best in the game.

    Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers in six games

    Unofficial Bracket Challenge 2009

    AJ's Bracket
    First-round winners: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Atlanta, Lakers, Denver, Dallas, Portland
    Conference finals: Cleveland beats Orlando, Lakers beat Denver
    NBA finals: Cleveland beats Lakers in six

    B-dubs' Bracket
    First-round winners: Cleveland, Chicago, Orlando, Miami, Lakers, Dallas, Portland
    Conference finals: Cleveland beats Orlando, Lakers beat Denver
    NBA finals: Cleveland beats Lakers in seven

    Justin Petek's Bracket
    First-round winners: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Miami, Lakers, Denver, San Antonio, Portland
    Conference finals: Cleveland beats Boston, Lakers beat Denver
    NBA finals: Lakers beat Cleveland in six

    Zach Sundelius' Bracket
    First-round winners: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Miami, Lakers, Denver, San Antonio, Portland
    Conference finals: Cleveland beats Orlando, Lakers beat San Antonio
    NBA finals: Lakers beat Cleveland in seven

    Tom Lea's Bracket
    First-round winners: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Miami, Lakers, Denver, Dallas, Portland
    Conference finals: Cleveland beats Boston, Lakers beat Denver
    NBA finals: Cleveland beats Lakers in six

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    NHL: Where Art Thou?

    .
    The NHL has all but disappeared.

    The majority of the games are buried away on cable networks such as Versus. ESPN shows maybe three minutes of highlights in an hour broadcast ... and we are in the PLAYOFFS. The Stanley Cup PLAYOFFS.


    I remember having the discussion with my father about our favorite postseasons in sports. March Madness was at the top. NFL playoffs were up there with the NBA playoffs, but Lord Stanley Cup's playoffs was in the argument. (OMG HAYDEN)

    Intensity, aggression, finesse, excitement. The NHL playoffs had it all. It was most definitely in my top-4 as far as postseasons go. However, since the NHL took a year off, the league has taken a nose dive that rivals that of post-JT-breakup depressed Britney Spears.

    In 2007, game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Ottawa Senators posted a 1.1 Nielsen rating, an all-time low for the NHL.

    Heck, Game 5, always a crucial game, was preempted by the Preakness prerace coverage. PRERACE coverage of a HORSE RACE. I know the Triple Crown is great stuff, but PRERACE coverage takes precedence over a huge finals hockey game?

    Unbelievable.

    Can the NHL, after it's Britney-eque crash, make the naked-music video Britney comeback?

    It will need the help of ESPN. You can try to deny it, but ESPN has come as close to a monopoly of sports as you can. They have no stake in the NHL right now. That needs to change or the Gary Bettman train will continue up to 88 MPH and blow up in Clayton Ravine.


    We need the NHL.

    I sat down with my friend last summer and could still name over 20 players from the Dallas Stars Stanley Cup Champion team. Reminiscing about those times ... its depressing to think that I can't name 5 players on the team now. It's not because I don't want to be a fan, it's because I don't have the means to be a fan. I can't afford purchasing the sports package that includes Versus. I can't watch many highlights of my team because they don't show up on Sportscenter. Right now... you have to work to be an NHL fan. With lazy America, that means the NHL will fail.

    So please ESPN, it's in your hands to throw the NHL on your back, and carry them back to significance.

    May Lord Stanley live on.

    Stay classy,

    B-dubs

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Omigod omigod omigod the NBA playoffs are starting omigod

    .
    Ummmm...if you couldn't tell by the title of this post, I'm excited for the NBA playoffs to commence. Like, really excited. Like, Jessica-Alba-just-walked-into-my-apartment-wearing-only-a-Carmelo-jersey excited.

    (Okay, not quite that enthralled. But still.)

    Certainly, it helps that my favorite team had itself a dream regular season, and for once - FINALLY - looks like a team that knows who it is, like it has the parts necessary for a deep playoff run even if it would take a minor miracle to win the whole shebang. Not to mention, home court for the first time in the Carmelo Anthony era. Sheesh, only took the Nugs six years.

    But you know what? Here's what's different this year: usually, when Denver gets knocked out after a week in the luxurious NBA Postseason Hotel, my fanhood checks out for the summer and I'll gently peruse the postgame recaps for the remaining rounds without really watching the games. But I solemnly swear this: even if the Nuggets get swept out of the first round, I will watch the entire playoffs with great intent. It's gonna be good. Nay, great.

    LeBron trying to officially become the greatest player in the NBA without match or master? Kobe trying to jump into the NBA's top 10 of all-time? D-Wade trying to get his second ring, which judging from his supporting cast would take something along the lines of 35-point, 15-rebound, 15-assist, and 12-block averages from now till Father's Day? The Celtics trying to embark on the impossibly difficult task of repeating (hasn't been done since Kobe-Shaq nearly 10 years ago), and doing it without a healthy Kevin Garnett? The Magic, Nuggets, Hawks and Rockets trying to prove they should've gotten more midseason pub rather than getting sloppy seconds on all the headlines? The Hornets (Chris Paul), Trail Blazers (Brandon Roy), and Bulls (Derrick Rose) trying to ride their young stud guards to some postseason success? The Sixers and Mavericks trying to recapture old glory by upsetting a top contender or two? And finally, the Spurs, Jazz and Pistons trying to prove they're not totally washed up?

    What's not to like about this postseason? I think my favorite part is, there are 16 quality teams participating in these playoffs. When a franchise that's played in the last six conference finals is your worst team - and it's not even close - that's a good thing, my friends. There's something to love about every one of the eight opening series, and I'm gonna preview them in some quick capsules here, adding in my first-round predictions (B-Dubs is in a busy stretch, but his picks are included). Some time before the playoffs actually begin on Saturday, I'll throw in my personal handicaps for the entire playoffs, March Madness-style ... but only if you allow me to change some stuff up after the first round. Cool? Cool.


    EASTERN CONFERENCE

    1) Cavaliers vs. 8) Pistons

    LeBron, you're quickly becoming the world's most popular athlete. You're at the top of every guy's "If I could be a famous celebrity for a week, who would it be?" list, along with Justin Timberlake, Andy Roddick and whoever's doing Brooklyn Decker. (Oops, the last two are the same. Pardon me while I sob into the bottom of a Kleenex box.) But you've gotta, just gotta, stop that dancing crap. Don't make us hate you. It was cute ... once. Maybe twice. It's no longer cute. It's kind of annoying now. Besides, you're only firing up the Lakers, Celtics, Magic, and yes, the Pistons, who if you've forgotten have owned this conference since you freaking entered the league.

    That said, has anybody seen the Pistons lately? Anybody? I feel like I haven't heard their name or seen any Detroit highlights in, like, three months. I guess I can see the Motown crowd, still fired up from Michigan State's run, helping the Pistons steal one from Cleveland. But the Cavs will get the other Palace game, which means they'll wrap it up back at the Q with relative ease.

    Prediction: Dancing Queens in five games
    (B-Dubs takes a Cavs Sweep)

    2) Celtics vs. 7) Bulls

    This series might be fun ... if Chicago can keep playing like it has since early March, finishing the season 14-7 and winning every game in April until the last one, the one they needed to avoid a first-round trip to Beantown. Derrick Rose, however, is Chi-town's best hope, and might not even be the best point guard in the series, the way Rajon Rondo has stepped up for the Celts.

    It would be beneficial for the reigning champs if they can work in KG and win this series with relative ease, preparing him for what would then be three very, very difficult series ahead. But again, you can't discount hot (and young) teams like the Bulls, and you just get the feeling that Boston will have to labor for six weeks straight if it wants to raise No. 18 in 2009.

    Prediction: The Champs in seven
    (B-Dubs has the advantage of knowing KG is done and takes Chi-town in 6)

    3) Magic vs. 6) Sixers

    Talk about a gift basket for Orlando. I mean, Philly couldn't have backed into these playoffs much more forcefully if it had a hemi and the emergency brake snapped in two. Six straight losses in April? And would've been seven if the Cavs had needed that final game?

    The Sixers have enough talent and have played well enough in stretches this year to make me believe this won't be a clean sweep. But a part of me feels like Orlando, even more than Cleveland, should be sure to have a large supply of brooms close at hand.

    Prediction: Disneyworld Dwight in five
    (B-Dubs take Superman in 5)

    4) Hawks vs. 5) Heat

    Mmmm, a tasty matchup in the Southeast U.S. of A. Now, everyone and their mother wants D-Wade to win this series and set up an epic clash with buddy LeBron. For that reason, I can't blame anyone for picking Miami, since David Stern's minions/referees has shown in the past an incredible ability to ensure Wade gets two free throws if a defender gets too close to him with a high fever. Unfortunately, David Stern's minions are more competent than Flash's minions.

    I mean, you're coming at me with two rookies and Joel Anthony up front? Like Jermaine O'Neal's just gonna wake up this morning and be 26 again? Not happening. Atlanta plays very well at home, gets nice production from solid pieces up and down the lineup, and has a little playoff experience of their own from last year's near-upset of Boston. You think D-Wade on his own is better than that Boston squad from a year ago? Think again...because if he is, then maybe he does deserve the MVP.

    Prediction: Hotlanta in six
    (B-Dubs takes D-Wade in 7)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE

    1) Lakers vs. 8) Jazz

    I just love Kobe's attitude when talking to Craig Sager after his Lakers admirably played out the string and defeated Utah to make sure the Jazz would be retuning to the City of Angels for the first round. Sager mentioned Utah's physicality, and Kobe said, "We want that. This is good for us, we need to play a team like that to find out who we are."

    Love it. I believe that a team like L.A. with legit title aspirations shouldn't care who they play in the first round, even if Utah is certainly capable of figuring out how to play basketball again at the snap of Jerry Sloan's fingers. But as long as Kobe keeps being Kobe, Andrew Bynum can keep getting back to full strength, and the Lakers can get something, anything, out of the point guard position, they should be fine through to round two. Just don't be surprised if it's not a cakewalk from the get-go.

    Prediction: Flakers in six games
    (B-Dubs: Kobe and this team take it to another level. Lakers in 5)

    2) Nuggets vs. 7) Hornets

    Don't think I can write this without any semblance of bias, but I will try. I remember going to a Nuggets-Hornets game back on Thanksgiving night at the Can, when the Hornets basically stole a victory with a series of ridiculous events at the end to take home the W (no insult intended; great teams win games they have no business winning. I'm just saying: the Hornets had no business winning that night.) I walked out muttering to myself, the four guys I went to the game with, the guy handing out Conoco coupons at the door, anybody who would listen: "we are better than that team" over and over again. I believed that then, I believe it now.

    Denver has always played Chris Paul very, very well; really, so well to the point that I'm a little puzzled what all the fuss is about with CP3. I know his stats speak for themselves, but I just haven't seen it when he plays Denver. The Nuggets are obviously Western Team Number One with an ape-sized monkey on the backside: trying to get out of the first round for the first time in forever. Luckily, the Hornets team on the opposite bench hasn't been there either, and has less overall experience. Other than Paul, New Orleans just is not very good, and I don't think they'll put up much of a fight in this series. Please, I beg you basketball gods: prove me right.

    Prediction: JR SMITH FOR THREEEEEEEEEEEE in five
    (B-Dubs: No homers here, Denver squeezes by in 7)

    3) Spurs vs. 6) Mavericks

    I keep feeling lucky about how the postseason draw opened up for the Nuggets, figuring that if they do get past Chris Paul and Co., that we'll finally see Denver get a fair shot at the Spurs, and with the benefit of home court. But hold on. Who says San Antonio will get that far?

    Dallas is playing very well to finish the season, San Antonio isn't. Dallas is completely healthy, San Antonio isn't. Dallas plays extremely well at home, San Antonio doesn't. Dallas is relatively young besides its point guard, San Antonio is the opposite of young. Old? Old, I think the term is. San Antonio is old. Dallas has better overall talent than San Antonio. I'm trying to think of a good reason why I should pick the wounded and susceptible Spurs.

    Meh, let's go with it. My upset special's right here.

    Prediction: Mark Cubans in six
    (B-Dubs: Cautiously taking my boys in 7)

    4) Trail Blazers vs. 5) Rockets

    Sorry, Rockets. Sure, you could've gotten home court in this series if Denver had cared enough to show up in the Rose Garden tonight. But, uh, maybe you shouldn't have coughed up an eight-point halftime lead in your own game tonight. Try and blame Kenyon Martin for that one.

    By the way, Yao? Your boy? Softer than a 12-pack of toilet paper. Somebody please inform him that flapping your right arm at Brandon Bass is not the definition of trying hard for a loose ball in a game your team needs to lock up home court. Of course, the rest of Yao's team is an offensive mess.

    On the flip side, there's a lot to like about Portland. Why, Hubie Brown is sleeping soundly right now and still gushing about how lovely the Trail Blazers play basketball like he did for two hours Wednesday night (despite the fact their opponent couldn't care less about the outcome, but I digress.) They're one of the best home court teams in the league; Brandon Roy is arguably a top-ten NBA player right now; there's good shooters all over the floor, a talented post presence in LaMarcus Aldridge, and a goof like Greg Oden who's trying really, really hard. You know, in general. That's, uh...that's about the best compliment I can give Oden (who also answers to Mr. Foul on Number 52, that's his fifth personal in about 12 minutes of play.)

    But Houston, after all, is Ape Firmly Planted on Back Team Number Two. Somehow, it's survived the T-Mac crap through all this, and Ron Artest is now a team player. Yes, that Ron Artest. Throw in the Rockets' tough D, and I can see this thing going the distance. With the home team winning each time out, and that's bad news for Yao, who still has never tasted second-round glory.

    Prediction: Baby Blazers in seven
    (B-Dubs: Hacktastic Odens in 6)

    Like I promised, I'll run through my picks for the conference semis, conference finals and NBA finals before the playoffs tip off Saturday. THIS...is gonna be good. Can't wait.

    -AJ

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    April 14: News and Views

    -
    Just a quick note before I get into my news and views. I was very disappointed with the finish to the Masters. The Tiger/Phil run was great. Heading to a 3-way playoff I was excited. Angel winning on a Kenny Perry collapse just wasn't that exciting.

    Onto the show!!

    Source: Isiah Thomas accepts FIU coaching job
    Oh how the mighty have fallen. Great hire for FIU though.

    De La Hoya says his time in the ring is over
    Until he is desperate for money and is willing to get beat up for a few bucks.

    Beckett suspended for nearly beaning Abreu
    Really? I nearly ran a red light yesterday... but I didn't get a ticket. MLB suspension... FAIL

    Cowboys get 6 national '09 games
    You usually want the next superbowl champion team on national television as much as possible

    Celtics' Allen suspended for elbowing Varejao
    Who cares? Suspension for a worthless game.

    UConn center Thabeet to enter NBA draft
    If you are projected to go in the top 5 ... you tend to leave school early.

    Autopsy shows Kalas died from heart disease
    Sad story... was looking forward to hearing the epic NFL films voice over of the Cowboys championship run this year.

    Glavine: Shoulder may end career
    Hall of fame is a foregone conclusion. Frankly... it's about time to put the glove up.

    Tavares or Hedman? Isles win 2009 draft lottery
    What sport are we even talking about here?

    Duke point guard Paulus works out for Packers
    Hahahahhahahah.


    Hahahhahahahahhaha.

    Now that is a comedic headline for the ages.

    Stay Classy,

    B-Dubs

    In honor of the headlines above... youtube clip of the week:


    Monday, April 13, 2009

    JR Smith for Threeeeeeeeeee...and more Case of the Mondays

    .
    More Mile High Musings from the fan of one team flying Mile High...and of another team whose season might be over after one week:


    • FORTY-FIVE.
    • I watch golf two days out of the year: Masters Sunday and U.S. Open Sunday. That's it. Well, unless you count the annual Thanksgiving Drinking Game sponsored by 'Caddyshack'.
    • And to be honest, with many things to get done on my Easter Sunday (and no, hunting for eggs was not one of them), I probably would not have watched if the final round Sunday weren't for a certain duo being paired together for the final round.
    • What a tussle that was: two men, at the peak of their craft, dueling each other for optimum position with the hopes of mounting an illustrious comeback with the grand prize of one of those lovely green jackets everyone seems to be so worked up about.
    • I'm of course, talking about Rocco Mediate and Miguel Angel Jimenez.



    • So ... Lefty and Tiger. Phil and Eldrick. Sadly for Tiger, who thrives on imposing his presence on his tee time partner and destructing every ounce of self-confidence he thought he had at one point in time, he was paired with someone who just doesn't give a hack.
    • That was part of the fun, for me. Phil had an unbelievable start, and I think that kind of got into Tiger's noggin. Every time I get into a debate over the greatest athlete of our time - Roger Federer (me) vs. Tiger Woods (every last one of my friends and their friends and their mothers) - my biggest case is that the rest of the tennis tour isn't intimidated by Federer, despite the fact that Federer can physically do something to throw your game off. In golf, Tiger can't do a gosh darn thing about it if you decide to go off for a 12-under round.
    • But these friends of mine argue that nay, Tiger does get into his opponents' heads, willing them to play poorly. Well, friends, Exhibit A all over your grill. Mickelson just showed us how you ignore the guy in the red shirt with all the swooshes splashed over his attire and just PLAY. YOUR. GAME.
    • For their career in majors, when paired together, Tiger has posted the lower score 11 times, and Phil nine times. That's getting it done, whether it's Tiger, God himself (no, Jim Nantz, not the same person), or a weekend hack with a 30 handicap playing with you.
    • Gee, I guess I should say something about Angel Cabrera capturing his second major or Kenny Perry nearly winning one for the old fogeys or Chad Campbell somehow scoring a blonde chick that's waaaaaaaaaaaaay out of his league. Uhhhhh...congrats Pato, too bad Kenny, and you are the MAN, Chad.
    • Hey, keeping in line with CBS' divvying of coverage between Tiger-Phil and the rest of the players, that's all the time I have alloted for non-Tiger news.
    • FORTY-FIVE.


    • Okay, I admit it, I was a little nervous about the Nuggets choking away the division title tonight. You'll have to forgive me; I'm still a little shocked from the last time a Denver-based team hosted a patsy opponent with two games to go and needing just one more victory to wrap up a division crown, only to blow it and be forced to fly to their division rival's building for the season finale where they got CREAMED.
    • For those who aren't Denver fans and are not shaking your heads in disgust or reaching for the nearest pistol, barf bag or fifth of Jack, I'm talking about the 2008 Broncos.
    • But alas, the Nuggets are too talented this year to let it slip. Actually, on this night, they weren't; but JR Smith sure as hell was.
    • FORTY-FIVE. That's how many points JR hung on Sacramento last night, aided by a franchise record 11 three-pointers, one short of the NBA record. For his final triple, JR was being trapped on the right wing, about 30 feet from the basket and the shot clock reading two. JR was forced to throw up a shot that should be attempted under no circumstances by any normal human being.
    • Thankfully, JR is no normal human being. Swish.
    • I'm not about to go all Jack Bauer on the NBA award voters and demand JR win the Sixth Man award. Jason Terry has once again been magnificent for the Mavericks, and has arguably been more important to red-hot Dallas than JR has been to Denver. Arguably, now.
    • But anybody who thinks Nate Robinson (a ballhog for a crappy team) or Travis Outlaw (lesser stats than Smith in every important category) should get votes over JR needs to stop following basketball. More than anything else, I can't wait to see what JR can do in the playoffs...particularly if they face off with Terry's (and B-dubs') Mavs.
    • So now, the Nuggets head to Portland in what could be a meaningless game on ESPN, should the Rockets lose in Dallas Wednesday night in the first ESPN telecast. That would automatically lock Denver into the 2 seed, and the Nuggets may be able to rest some guys before the playoffs start Saturday.
    • Oh, man, is this exciting. Just a few days 'till the playoffs, and in a way, I'm just as jacked up for the playoff pairings to be locked in tomorrow night. Once they're set, I'll have a NBA playoff preview with segments on all eight matchups, and my composite predictions all the way through the finals. Early teaser: there will be a LOT of Cleveland involved.
    • FORTY-FIVE.


    • Well, the Rockies had a good season. For about four games.
    • Good, encouraging start to jump out 3-1. But our bullpen has been grossly and hopelessly overrated (we dumped Holliday for this guy??? REALLY?!?!?!), Cook and Jimenez are going to have tough years going up against the No. 1 and No. 2 starters on other teams, and I'm afraid our offense just won't be the same consistently for 162 games without Matty H.
    • I will say this, though: Ryan Spilborghs is a very capable replacement for Holliday in left. And it will be FUN watching Dexter Fowler grow. That's about all I can say for the Rox, who are destined for about 75 wins this year. Maybe 80.

    • FORTY-FIVE.

    • It was unbelievably disappointing to have a quiet weekend around the apartment, because nobody was ever around me when I saw any news about the US cruise ships getting bombarded by pirates.
    • Nobody was ever around to hear my super-funny pirate joke! It went something like this, "Yarrrrrr, mateys, we be on dar news."
    • Okay, I thought it was funny.
    • I was just under the impression that the only pirates still around are up in Pittsburgh, playing perennially bad baseball, that's all.


    • Fantasy Baseball Gripe of the Week: Chien-Ming Wang, really? 24 ERA through two starts? Are you really this awful, and should I just dump you now for Paul Bako while I still can?
    • Explain this one to me: I had five pitchers start for me today. Todd Wellemeyer (a shiny nickel if you can tell me what team he plays for) went seven strong, giving up just a run on seven hits, no walks and four Ks, for the victory in which his team scored just two runs.
    • My other four guys? Maybe you've heard of them: Wang, Jon Lester, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Mike Pelfrey. Humor me and throw in Brad Lidge as the lone relief pitcher who hurled for me today. Those five studs combined for 16.2 innings pitched, a 13.33 ERA, a WHIP way about 2, and no wins or quality starts.
    • In other words, fantasy baseball is EVIL. When you think about it, so is real baseball.


    • FORTY-FIVE.
    • Did I mention how excited I am for the Nuggets? And how excited I am for the NBA playoffs in general???
    • With the end of the regular season comes the end of NBATV, and likely, the end of Melanie Collins for this season. OK, so there is something tempering my enthusiasm. And that's all I have to say about that.
    Have a good one.

    -AJ

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    Never Give Up... Never Surrender

    .
    Is anyone really doubting a Tiger Woods comeback?

    Will any of the 18 players ahead of him remain calm, cool and collected as his name climbs the leaderboard? Probably not.

    It's really funny, actually. Tiger is 7 strokes behind the co-leaders, but I (and most everybody) fully expects him to be right there on Sunday.


    Why? Because he is Tiger (expletive) Woods.

    Watch all of his Majors up to 2005. It gives you the confidence that the move is coming. That killer instinct is showing up TODAY.

    I didn't get to catch most of the 2nd round, and Tiger wasn't really on TV anyway. Wait ... let's take a sidetrack for a second. The Masters coverage has been TERRIBLE. This is a MAJOR championship and we don't get TV coverage until 3 PM for the first two rounds? Oh, and then Saturday they bump it up to 2:30? Tiger will be on the back 9 by the time we can see him on TV. Thanks ESPN, I really enjoyed the first round of the WNBA draft on Thursday leading up to Masters coverage. Were your ratings really higher during the 2-3PM hour because people wanted to see when the Paris twins were selected? Ugh... ANGRY.
    *End Furious Rant*

    I caught highlights of Tiger's round on The WNBA Loving Sports Network...(Okay i promise I'm done ranting) and came to the conclusion that Tiger's 72 should have been closer to a 68 or better.

    We didn't see his approach shots, but his putting was awful. I counted 6 birdie putts within 12 feet that he lipped out and 2 par putts within 10 feet that skimmed the cup. Now, first of all, Tiger doesn't miss "must-have" par putts. Second, he will NOT putt that poorly in the next 2 rounds. What this tells me is that he is hitting the ball as well as he has all year. If he makes half of those birdie and par putts, we are talking 4 strokes better, which puts him at -6 rather than -2.

    Now, I am not saying he IS going to win his fifth green jacket, but I am not going to doubt him until someone else is sliding the jacket on. Tiger will charge (66 on Saturday is my guess) and the leaders will crumble (except for maybe Angel Cabrera because he doesn't speak English and doesn't know what the Masters is or who Tiger is).

    So... get your popcorn ready for the Sunday playoff between Angel Cabrera and Tiger Woods. Angel may not remember it, but I can guarantee Tiger wants revenge for the 2007 U.S. Open.

    Enjoy moving day, as we all know which direction Eldrick will be headed.

    -B-Dubs-


    Caption: (Tiger's thoughts: "If you could speak English
    I would tell you that I am going to knock you out
    with my 8-iron and take the jug.")

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    Sportsman of the Month - March

    .
    Didn't get a chance to post this amid the Final Four, Masters and Opening Day hoopla, so here we go. Expect some Masters updates from B-Dubs as we get closer to Tiger's eventual comeback to win the Green Jacket. It's gonna happen.

    March: Team Japan, World Baseball Classic Champions

    Two tournaments in its existence, two world championships. Doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

    The WBC is one of those oddball “is it overrated or is it underrated?” events that garners a ton of hype (overrated) and seems like it’s one of the greatest ideas known to modern man (underrated), until you just can’t get excited about the tournament, try as you might (overrated) but then when you look back at it, you wish it would come along next year as opposed to waiting ‘till Obama’s in his second term (underrated).

    I sort of watched the tournament myself, but wasn’t truly riveted until the championship game. Apparently, Japan-South Korea baseball is a bitter rivalry among the ranks of Yanks-Sox, Federer-Nadal and McShay-Kiper Jr. Japan and South Korea put on a show at Dodger Stadium, with Korea mounting a comeback in the final two innings before Ichiro hit a two-run single in the top of the tenth to lift Japan to its second straight WBC title.

    In a tournament where the American players barely seem to care, and talented powers Cuba and the Dominican Republic have underachieved, Japan has shown the world that baseball isn’t just America’s pastime. Led by Ichiro and Daisuke Matsuzaka – and armed with just five MLB players on its roster – the likeable Japanese team has ruled the four-year domain of the WBC. Unfortunately, when the third installment is played in 2009, Japan’s quest for a three-peat will be hindered by aging stars like Ichiro (who will be 39 then), Kosuke Fukudome (35) and Kenji Johjima (36).

    But even so, I wouldn’t bet against Japan, if a battle of nations is at stake.

    Past SOTM winners:
    Rafael Nadal – February
    Larry Fitzgerald – January


    March honorable mentions:
    Tiger Woods: Really, Tiger? It took you three tournaments to win a title after coming back from a year’s absence? Stiff.
    Dominic James: for showing us what it means to love the game, refusing to let that “season-ending” foot injury end his season – or his Marquette career – on a sour note.
    Michigan State Spartans: for lifting the spirits of the U.S. state most troubled by this recession, and for proving consistency throughout Tom Izzo’s MSU career. Spend four years in East Lansing, you WILL go to a Final Four.
    Nate Miles (the ex-UConn guard): for being the centerpiece March’s official “Overblown Non-Story of the Month.”

    -AJ

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    A Tradition Like No Other... Well, Sorta

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    When does golf season truly start?

    The Mercedes Benz Championship in Hawaii in January is the first tournament of the golf season. I mean Geoff Ogilvy won the thing, and he is a top-10 player.... but this really doesn't reel in the casual golf fan.

    Some say the season doesn't start until Tiger Woods steps out onto the first tee of a tournament. This year that would be the Accenture Match Play in late February. While many count this as the beginning of golf season, it's still just the match play tournament... it's just not that enthralling.

    The "5th major," the Player's Championship at TPC Sawgrass was moved from its usual spot in March to May. Before this move, the Player's Championship was most definitely the start of the season, but now we don't get to enjoy watching golfer after golfer suffer at the 17th island green until we approach Memorial Day.

    Which brings us to Augusta National Golf Club. Azaleas blooming. Fresh cut grass with not one weed on the property. Amen Corner. Roars rolling down the hills on the back 9 on Sunday.... or not.

    It's been talked about for a few years now, but Augusta has lost some of the excitement that we yearn. The players are even talking about it. Instead of hearing the Sunday roars, we get the Sunday groans. Last year Trevor Immelman increased his lead even when he shot a final round 75. Tiger himself said that eagle opportunities have vanished:

    "I just hope the excitement comes back on the back nine; it's not what it used to be. 13, 15 … good drives were automatic irons into greens, and that's not always the case now."

    Is the Masters still a tradition like no other?
    It seems that these past few years have mirrored the U.S. and British Opens. Bogeys are more frequent than birdies. It's frustrating having to wait until August to see birdies at a major.

    Will we ever see a Sunday charge like the back nine 36 that Nicklaus fired in 1986? It would be a shame if we didn't because that is one of the biggest lures, at least for me, of the Masters. The excitement of Amen Corner and then the par-5's and then the par-3 16th... it's just golf at its finest.

    So I ask Augusta officials: shorten the course, cut down the rough, slow down the greens. Lets bring the magic and creativity back to what is golf's premiere event. We tune in to this tournament to see the shot makers sculpt their way around the course... not to smash a drive and pray that their 3-iron approach hold the green; that's what the Bethpages and Pinehursts are fore.

    So please, Augusta National, for fans and golfers alike ... let the eagles soar and the birdies chirp.

    -B-Dubs

    Oh, and I like Tiger to claim his 5th green jacket this Sunday.

    Here is my Masters Preview from NewsOk.com:

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Someone get Jay Cutler his ba ba; more Case of the Mondays

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    More Mile High Musings for a Monday that, fittingly, begins with 30 fresh starts and ends with a championship finish...
    • I guess I should weigh in on the Jay Cutler saga, you know, being that I'm a Broncos fan and I write for a blog and all. One problem: I don't quite know how I feel about the whole situation, like whose side I was on (Cutler's or the Broncos') or who was the winner in April 2nd's big deal (Bears or Broncos).

    • The one thing I do know about the situation...well, to be honest, I can't say it any better than (of all people) George Karl, coach of the red-hot Denver Nuggets. When the DP asked Karl, who's dealt with a similar situation last summer with the Melo trade rumors, about the Cutler ordeal barely 24 hours before Baby Jay was shipped to Chicago, Karl said this:

    • "My thought is - I'd take them up to the mountains, put them in a cabin, and make them spend three days with each other."

    • Okay, when the man who took three years to figure out that giving JR Smith more than 15 minutes a game might be a good thing for your basketball team can make logical sense with his 'football GM' hat on, that's not a good sign for the Denver Donkeys, now is it?

    • I get that Jay has the maturity of a six-year-old girl with Barbie-doll separation issues. I get that many of the all-time greats (John Elway and Carmelo Anthony, for two) have dealt with trade rumors far, far better than he did. I get that Cutler - a franchise player for two years - could have easily strolled across the locker room and asked his new teammate, safety Brian Dawkins and the Eagles' franchise player of 13 years, how to act like a man when your employer curiously wants nothing to do with you.

    • But something doesn't sit right with me, when respected football writers like my personal favorite Peter King paint this picture of Pat Bowlen as not only a fantastic owner (which he is), but also a man you do not disrespect under any circumstances.

    • Pat Bowlen's letter to Bronco Nation reeks of a spin job; methinks Mr. Bowlen felt his ego was more important than winning football games.

    • Bowlen wrote that "it has never been about one player, and it never will be." Tell me, Patty, how it wasn't about "one player" when you allowed "one player" to set your franchise back five years because he didn't pick up his cell phone. Give. Me. A. Break.

    • You allowed it to be about one player by surrendering to his so-called demands instead of fining the crap out of him and forcing him to make nice with Josh McDaniels.

    • That's my thoughts on the Ghost of Broncos past; since I want to get to baseball, I'll post something about the Broncos future tomorrow. But quickly, I will say that I believe in Kyle Orton. Yes, this man. He is not "horrible" as I've heard so many good people and Bears fans (the same people, strangely enough) claim. We'll talk more about Orton tomorrow.


    • I tell you: nothing says Opening Day quite like ponchos and down jackets, huh?

    • Watching that Mets-Reds slip 'n slide...er, baseball game...earlier today, those fans looked like they'd rather be sipping cocoa in the ski lodge then freezing their arses off at a baseball game.

    • As it was, two games were postponed on Opening Day (Rays-Red Sox and Royals-White Sox). Good thing; with soaking-wet fields, you wouldn't want the players to catch pneumonia by getting their Sox wet.

    • Here's the part I don't get: when all 30 teams are in action, you've got eight NL games and seven AL games each day. Why aren't we dictating that every game being played before, say, April 15, is either in a dome or a warm-weather city?

    • Florida, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Arizona. And Colorado, St. Louis and Washington as possible backups.

    • Tampa Bay, Toronto, Minnesota, Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, Texas. And maybe Kansas City and Baltimore as possible backups.

    • But no, let's schedule games in Boston, Chicago, and Cincinnati. What's funny is, out of the 13 games on Opening Day, 10 of them are in one of those domed or warm-weather locales.

    • However, if MLB doesn't learn anything from this year, they never will. The three cold-weather games? Two postponements and the aforementioned tundra-like affair in Cincinnati.


    • All right, Yankees fans, you finally got to see your $23 million a year 'till 2015 investment in action. And what did we get in return from Carsten Charles Sabathia, aka Mr. $700,000-per-start?

    • (Consulting the box score...talk amongst yourselves...hmmm, this doesn't look good. Earmuffs, kids.)

    • 4 1/3 innings, 96 pitches (only 50 strikes), six earned runs, eight hits, five walks and a whopping zero strikeouts. Lemme repeat that, because I sure as haaaaail did a double-take just typing that: five walks, zero strikeouts. Against the devastatingly powerful Orioles lineup.

    • Stathead alert! Today was CC's 255th career start, and only the third time he failed to strike a batter out (both in 2005: May 5 at Minnesota and July 25 at Oakland). He's also never walked that many (five) while failing to ring up a single batter. By the way, on a separate note: CC's career postseason ERA is 7.92.

    • 700 grand for that masterpiece today. Don't spend it all in one place, CC (or should I say, BB?)

    • And Yankees fans, don't say I didn't warn you: Sabathia's gonna go something like 14-10 with an ERA in the high 3s, maybe low 4s this year. Sounds like $23 million well spent.

    • For those of you screaming, "You guys both took him to win the Cy this year!" Well, consider this my official retraction. I'm going with either Ervin Santana or Roy Halladay. No, that's not a knee-jerk, one-game reaction.


    • From the That Really Grinds My Gears Department: Tried out MLB.com's TV package today. I've done it the past three years, for some reason, since I've received the worst customer service out of any company to which I write checks. MLBTV's new "Nexdef" technology provides a crystal clear picture...but the damn thing freezes every 15 seconds, and doesn't refresh, so you end up watching the sixth inning when the game is actually in the eighth. Do not purchase this product, not worth the money.


    • How 'bout my Marlins, huh? Highest run-scoring team of the day (as of 7 pm CST). Not bad for my World Series pick. Good start. Nice way to kick things off for Benji's favorite team, too; Rangers a 9-1 winner over the Tribe.

    • Not so good for the Rox, 9-8 losers to the D-Bags Snakes.

    • C'mon, Cookie, you're better than that.

    • Quick shout-out to Michael Bleach of the Badger Herald, whose column last Thursday set the all-time Herald Sports record for "most commented story". (And to think, I only helped him once!) Had no idea softball people were that passionate, but it is a very well-written column and the ensuing commentors are insightful.


    • BREAKING NEWS! So this news came out while I was putting this together: San Antonio Spurs douche guard Manu Ginobili's is out for the remainder of the season and playoffs because he committed too many flopping violations with an ankle injury.

    • BREAKING VIEWS! Manu's season is over. So is the Spurs'. It's a two-horse race in the West now. (I will now go pump my fist Tiger-style for the next three hours.)


    • Tonight's NCAA championship game should be a great one. The villain powerhouse against the Cinderella underdog that everyone's pulling for...for a reason other than basketball.

    • Personally, I want to apologize to the Michigan State Spartans for doubting them. Sitting behind their bench during a bad loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, the players seemed dysfunctional; I didn't get the feeling they really loved each other the way great teammates should. Kudos to Tom Izzo's crew for showing another iconic Big Ten coach how it's done in March and April, and it's great that you've lifted the spirits of Michigan.

    • That said, speaking of teams that love each other, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green didn't all come back to school just to lose in the championship game to a team it previously beat by 35...on that same court. Tar Heels win tonight, but it might be closer than you think - maybe the first single-digit win of North Carolina's tournament.

    • Blake Griffin, thou art behemoth. Courtney Paris, thou art creatureth larger than behemoth.


    • Brad Hawpe = Brandon Webb's daddy. And that's all I have to say about that.

    Have a good one.

    -AJ